5. TCU Horned Frogs
Projected record: 12-0 (8-0)
Projected losses: NA (Oregon State, BYU, Air Force)
Strength of schedule: 93
At first glance, the Horned Frogs look poised for a National Championship run, and they are—if not for Oregon State.
As stated in the OSU slide, there's serious upset potential in week one.
But TCU's defense may just prove too much, and I think the Horned Frogs run away slithering with that one.
After the Beavs, TCU is basically in the clear. BYU, Air Force, and Utah are the only teams that pose any sort of a challenge.
Utah won't be very strong this year, but Air Force has upset potential. They nearly shut down TCU las year, and return a lot of stars.
That being said, the SOS is still terribly low, and it's hard to respect teams with an SOS that low even if they are 12-0.
4. Texas Longhorns
Projected record: 11-1 (6-2)
Projected losses: Nebraska (Oklahoma)
Strength of schedule: 62
As stated in the Nebraska slide, I think Texas falls on October 16th.
Nebraska's defense looks stronger, as does the offense. Not to mention the revenge factor for last year's Big 12 championship game.
Losing Colt McCoy, Jordan Shipley, two all-american offensive linemen, an all-american linebacker, and the sensational Rookie of the Year bound Earl Thomas, along with half your defensive linemen is not something you rebound from very easily.
In all truth though, Garrett Gilbert actually didn't do too shabby in the National Championship last year. After all, he didn't even expect to play.
On defense, the secondary looks really strong, but I worry for the defensive line and linebackers. The defense will most likely still be top 15, but don't be surprised to see it slip a bit.
Granted, Mack Brown is an excellent coach, an excellent recruiter, and it won't be like the Longhorns just fall off the map.
However, they will take a step back by going 11-1.
3. Virginia Tech Hokies
Projected record: 11-1 (7-1)
Projected losses: North Carolina (Boise State, GTech, Miami)
Strength of schedule: 47
That's right—they'll beat Boise State.
Boise State won't have home field advantage this time, so no camouflage effect.
The offense is just loaded with talent in Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Williams, several receiving options, and a pretty good offensive line.
On defense, there's only four starters returning, but don't let that fool you.
I'm a little worried about the secondary, but the front seven looks to be really solid.
Boise State may be able to blast the secondary with Kellen Moore and company. But "not so fast!" The defense has a hole. It's a small one, but it's there.
The defense didn't get to the quarterback very well at all. A top 30 defense is good, and it'll improve over the offseason, but I smell an upset.
All good teams fall eventually, and if the Virginia Tech offense finds the holes and can somehow hold Kellen Moore back a bit, it's a win.
I don't doubt the talent on the Broncos team, but week one has upset potential, so don't be fooled into thinking Virginia Tech has a weak defense this year.
As for North Carolina?
The Tar Heels are at home, and more dangerous than ever. I don't think the Hokies will see TJ Yates coming.
The Georgia Tech game is huge, as well as the game against Miami (FL), and it's possible they underestimate the Tar Heels.
If not, the Hokies just might go 12-0 and undefeated in 2010-11.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
Projected record: 12-0 (8-0)
Projected losses: NA (Miami, Wisconsin, Penn State, Iowa)
Strength of schedule: 61
How can you not like the look of Ohio State this year?
I mean seriously, all the pieces are in place—this is the year of the Buckeye. Believe me, I have bad blood with the Buckeyes, so this isn't easy for me to say.
Consider the offense—Terrelle Pryor will be out to prove January 1st was not a fluke, and running back Brandon Saine is a potential all-american.
That said, the receivers lack star quality. If teams can shut down the run, that means minimal scoring from OSU.
On defense, the Buckeyes return two all-americans, an outstanding secodary, and will remain a top five defense this year.
The only teams with a sincere shot at beating OSU are listed above.
The toughest will be Wisconsin and Iowa, as they're on the road. But Miami, Penn State, and even Michigan are played at home.
Wisconsin doesn't have the firepower to outscore Ohio State, and Iowa's passing game will be contained, then outshined by the Buckeye's running game.
I really can't see the Buckeyes losing a single game this year. I smell a National Championship game headed their way.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
Projected record: 12-0 (8-0)
Projected losses: NA (PSU, Arkansas, Florida, USC, LSU)
Strength of schedule: 15
I'm sorry, but are we really going to lose faith in the Tide because they lose their defensive stars? I sure ain't.
The offense returns at it's best, with two all-americans, and three all-conference players.
Greg McElroy, Mark Ingram, and Julio Jones will be the key playmakers, with a great offensive line coming back led by all-american James Carpenter.
The defense really won't struggle that much next year. Yes, they only return two starters, but one of those is all-american safety Mark Barron.
The defensive line is full of experience, and the linebackers will be led by Dont'a Hightower.
The secondary is the only unit that worries me. Both starting cornerbacks and the free safety will have minimal experience.
What they lack in experience will be made up in talent, however.
If Alabama can get past Florida and Arkansas, which will be difficult, it looks like a clear ride the SEC championship and a rematch with the Gators.
Win that, and its undefeated season number three, and possibly another National Championship, too.
Can Alabama repeat a National Championship? Heck yes.